In an essay for Salon, Professor Alyson Cole (GC/Queens, Political Science) examines concerns about “victim culture,” why such fears have surfaced now, and how they thwart free speech and political progress.
“Once again we are told that the problem we face as a nation is not growing inequality or intractable forms of injustice, but those churlish individuals and perpetually aggrieved groups who insist on complaining, draining our limited resources of compassion,” Cole writes.
“Note too that while they concede that victim talk is evident on the political right, their examples focus primarily on race, gender and sexuality.”
Anti-victimism recalls earlier eras when protests deemed “victimist” were silenced, thereby upholding the status quo, according to Cole.
“It is no coincidence that concerns about victimhood culture arise precisely at the moment when demands to address the systemic threat to black lives are growing in number and intensity.”
Cole’s research and teaching interests bridge political theory and American politics/culture. She serves as Executive Officer of the GC’sPolitical Science program and is the author of The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror (2007).